The oldest wooden sculpture that remains, to our knowledge, dates back 11,500 years. From providing shelter and sustenance, to providing wood for our homes, transportation and art, trees will never cease to inspire. This year’s Miami Art Week (and fairs ranging from Art Basel and Art Miami to NADA, DesignMiami/ and Untitled) hosted prime examples of what artists can materializes from various woods. Each artist taps into the essence of the source—mahogany, birch and more—to evoke its beauty and structure.
Camille Kachani’s “Sem Titulo”
Snaking from metal sheers into faux sprouts, Camille Kachani‘s “Sem titulo,” aka “Untitled” (2013), toys with the idea of pruning. With mahogany as its primary material, the wall-hung sculpture underscores the importance of growth—and re-growth. It was observed in São Paulo’s Zipper Galeria‘s installation at the Untitled Art Fair.
JB Blunk’s “Mr. Peanut”
Honed between 1973 and 1976, late Californian artist JB Blunk’s “Mr. Peanut” employs both redwood and bishop pine for a two-part standing sculpture. Together, it rises to more than three-and-a-half feet. On view at LA’s The Landing Gallery‘s booth at NADA, the work balances organic and abnormal forms.
Tadashi Kawamata “Destruction No 23”
On an exterior wall of Parisian gallery Kamel Mennour‘s installation at Art Basel Miami Beach, Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata‘s wall-hung sculpture “Destruction No 23” (2019) depicts chaos from balsa wood, plywood and acrylic paint. It’s poetic and subjective—though the work’s title certainly helps understand what one is witnessing. Another appropriate title might be “Aftermath.”
Anthony James “Birch Sculpture”
Perhaps best known for his mesmerizing geometric steel-and-light sculptures, British-American artist Anthony James showcased his “Birch Sculpture” (2019) in the booth of NYC’s Opera Gallery at Art Miami, a fair celebrating its 30th year. Amidst the LED lights and specialized glass, James affixed beautiful birch branches that appear studied by the more scientific components around them.
Carl Andre’s “Cedar Rotor”
Another wooden standout from Art Basel Miami Beach, Carl Andre‘s “Cedar Rotor” (2002) acts as a complement to one of the artist’s other works in Miami: “Llano Estacado, Dallas, Texas” (1979), found at the brand new Rubell Museum. The former, presented by Germany’s Konrad Fischer Galerie, is composed of 32 western red cedar timbers, which curve with elegance when places side by side.
Wendell Castle’s “Dining Table”
The tangible function behind American designer Wendell Castle’s slack-laminated oak dining table (1969) makes it no less a work of art. Presented by CH favorite R & Company at DesignMiami/, there’s whimsy to the piece, as several organic shapes grow outward.